Biography

Adelka Polak is the founder and Artistic Director of SOVA Dance and Puppet Theater. She is a dancer, puppeteer, mask-performer and movement director whose work has traveled to Denmark, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Turkey. She worked with Squonk Opera who went "from junkyards to Broadway" and performed at Lincoln Center Outdoors and LaMama, E.T.C. with the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater of NYC. Ms. Polak was featured on CPTV's "Spotlight on the Arts" with Masque Theatre in a segment nominated for a cultural Emmy in 2010 and produced by Ed Wierzbiecki. Recently, she performed puppetsapHeadshot from the Henson Workshop in an original devised production on "Crane: On Earth, In Sky" led by Heather Henson & Ty Defoe.

The Ridgefield Guild of Artists selected Ms. Polak as artist-in-residence with sculptor Justin Perlman, who collectively integrated visual art and dance into the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra 2012 Spring Concert working with James Robey Dance and the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance's Contemporary Dance Ensemble. Her work mixes media such as video, fabric, objects, and natural materials with organic movement. She guides children to develop artistic voices by the integration of nature and the performing arts, especially puppetry, in programs like Two Coyotes Wilderness School's "Wild Theater" and a program based on her original performance "Tales from the Wild" where participants get to create their own imaginative depictions of the seasons in CT. She works at Western Connecticut State University's Theater Department, taught Contemporary/Improvisational Dance at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, and has a B.A. in Theater and Cultural Studies with honors from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA.

History & Development

Described by a friend as a “blue-collared artist,” Adelka Polak considers her artistic development and points back to the steel-city of Pittsburgh and hillside villages of Slovakia. Born and raised in Youngstown, OH to a Slovak immigrant and an American steel worker, Adelka may have been exposed less to art as a child than to hardworking, high-spirited people. A cross-cultural childhood led expression through dance, a medium not requiring words, to be Adelka's strength and later could not leave her during Theater acting training at Chatham University, no matter how traditional the script was. Her movement skills are the foundation for her striking stage presence and vocal quality.

In fact what Adelka realized in her interdisciplinary studies, which also included Eastern European history and culture, clowning, modern dance, improvisation, and Butoh, was how much more powerful a character could become when expressing the human ideas and notions in the script without words. Grand ideas expressed initially on paper began unfolding using the physical body, facial expressions, gesture, and eventually video for transforming colors, scenes, and emotions. The effect was thrilling. Audiences were stunned by her early nonverbal translations of literature. One person wrote in a guest book in the tiniest print visible “i am not the same.” Is that not what theater should do - serve as a platform for self-reflexivity? The performance does not just display transformation for the sake of the performance but initiates some kind of interior transformation in the audience. Note: Adelka briefly studied in Prague in 2001 to begin research and design for this original mixed media dance piece, From Mourning to Moonlight, inspired by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. The show premiered in 2002 integrating Butoh dance as understood in the context of war's effect on human life.

Her propensity for nonverbal expression pulled her work to new levels calling for an array of media combining to create a potent performance vocabulary, which unfolds in many different ways onstage today. For many years, even after moving to a rural community in the Northeast, Adelka Polak used video projections as a moving backdrop for dance, often even becoming a partner for the soloist. These techniques apply often both to her independent performances and collaborations. Technology took a back seat in Adelka Polak's performance work when she began a collaboration with mask-maker and performer Larry Hunt in 2008. She also spent some time with puppet and costume fabrication, including designs by Basil Twist, in Randy Carfagno Studios in NYC, which pushed her sewing skills forward, making her performance design and choreography relate more to tactile materials and objects used in performance. The ancient art of mask exists as a tactile medium for performance, creating visually stunning metaphors and transformations. The main connection between the various mediums, whether it be video, puppetry or mask for Ms. Polak is always nature, including human nature, the essence of dance.

Her expertise in dance improvisation led to the creation of techniques used for large groups where all dancers feel comfortable. Ms. Polak’s current Artist Residency at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists led to continuing collaboration with the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra utilizing her recent revolutionary choreographic techniques created in 2012 for the Spring Concert with the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance. Dance, music and art are everywhere!

Sova DaPT is currently located in Ridgefield, CT, which is neighboring South Salem, NY just 70 minutes north of NYC.

 

CV -Adelka Polak